3

I am asked about personal success strategies frequently, as I’m sure most business people are.

My 4-Step Career Advice

When someone expects career advice and ideas on personal success strategies for free (as they so often do), my standard career advice, particularly to mid-career professionals is:

  1. Get a Plan B up and running while your Plan A is still working.
  2. Start communicating your expertise in your Plan B area (and Plan A if it fits), whether that’s via a blog, a social media site, video, presentations, audio, etc. The medium doesn’t really matter as long as you start communicating what you know sooner than later!
  3. The minute your Plan A job shrinks (or there’s even a hint it might shrink), start ramping up plans for Plan B to become your major income source.
  4. Should plan A ever go away – or you decide you want it to go away – you’re in control of making the right decision.

That’s my standard advice because it’s what I did. And since it has worked reasonably well, I share this personal success strategy because I have at least case to suggest it’s a reasonable strategy. And I don’t want to suggest a bad course of action to anyone.

Nearly Everyone Ignores this Career Advice

career-advicePerhaps because this is my most frequently shared advice (I’ve been giving some version of it for twenty years), it’s the advice nearly everyone ignores.

One friend has been receiving this career advice from me his entire professional work life, and he has yet to act on it. For twenty years he’s been doing something he doesn’t really love doing, but he won’t launch plan B linked to what he is truly passionate about doing. So when his plan A evaporates – and it’s been close before – he will either be starting from scratch on his passion OR wind up doing more of what he hasn’t REALLY loved doing for twenty years because it’s the only thing where he has deep professional experience.

I understand the reluctance to follow this career advice.

Step 1 is a pain in the ass.

That’s not how popular personal success strategies work; they are supposed to start incredibly easy.

Step 1, however, is hard work. It means doing double time, or at least one-plus time. Thus, if you aren’t up for that, you’ll ignore this advice.

I understand the problems with the whole “I have to work even harder now and probably later” part of this personal success strategy.

But it works. That’s why I keep giving it out to people who ask – and don’t want to pay for more customized advice.

Now, having written this, I have a link to give anyone looking for free career advice. Which is a LOT easier and simpler for me. But for you, if you choose to do it, it still going to be hard. It’s so worth it though.

Trust me. It’s great advice, and it only gets better with time. - Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Continue Reading

2

Group-DecisionsSomeone asked during a recent strategic thinking workshop asked about the optimum size for a brainstorming group.

He was specifically interested in what size of group would maximize the creative thinking and number of new ideas from participants.

Similar to the post about the math behind brainstorming new product ideas, we use a loose formula to figure out how big a creative thinking group should be.

What’s the Right Size for a Brainstorming Group?

In any brainstorming group we try to account for:

Put all these together, and the right size for a brainstorming group usually winds up between two or three people on the low side and eight to ten people on the high side.

The lower number works when participants are especially diverse and individually adept at multiple strategic thinking perspectives. The high side number usually comes into play when having a group any larger creates situations where too many people are listening to one person at a time come up with ideas.

One exception to the upper end number is if you are using an exercise where multiple people can actively share ideas simultaneously (as our online collaboration platforms allows participants to do). In those cases, we can have many more people brainstorming simultaneously on a topic.

If there are more than eight to ten people, that’s when we start managing the group size through smaller groups. These groups can be working on identical or related parts of an exercise simultaneously.

Creative Thinking Is the the Solution

Ultimately, we design a Brainzooming creative thinking session to balance between maximizing each individual’s time to contribute ideas with the opportunity to hear other people sharing ideas as an additional source of creative thinking inspiration.

Having written it all out, this sounds like it may be a differential equation-type question. Since I stopped pursuing a math minor in the midst of differential equations class, this loose multi-equation approach is as complicated as we get with this brainstorming math! Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your organization’s success!

Continue Reading

2

imageA prospective client asked about the brainstorming dynamics we address to generate a large volume of new ideas and concepts to replenish a new product pipeline.

My short answer was, “It’s all in the math.”

While that’s the short answer, it’s also the answer at the heart of designing a Brainzooming creative thinking session so it generates many new ideas.

The Math of Brainstorming and New Ideas

As we identify a client’s objectives and desired outcomes, it comes down to the math of how much creative thinking productivity we need from a group to generate the desired volume of new ideas. Among the variables we evaluate are:

  • The number of diverse participants
  • How much time we have for creative thinking
  • The inherent productivity of various creative thinking exercises
  • How many people will be able to share new ideas simultaneously

When you start putting numbers to those variables, you quickly get a sense of how many new ideas a brainstorming session will yield.

Turning Creative Thinking into Ideas

Once the math is done, that’s when the real work starts of actually arranging, designing, and structuring the Brainzooming creative thinking exercises to bring the math to life!

So how many new ideas do you need? We’d be happy to do the math AND turn it into actual ideas! Just call or email to get started! – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Continue Reading

3

AgreeX3My friend Tony Vannicola used to remark when everybody at a meeting was piling on to say the same thing, “Sounds like we’re all in violent agreement.”

I always loved that phrase.

Over time, I realized how much project management time gets wasted with people rehashing topics where they are truly in violent agreement.

When time is limited, and you need to get things done, however, you don’t want to waste time on areas of violent agreement. You want to focus your project management efforts instead on areas of violent DISAGREEMENT.

7 Project Management Techniques to Spend Less Time Agreeing

Try these seven project management techniques to get to disagreements faster so you can turn them into agreements, or at least see if there are solid reasons to disagree.

  • Use online surveys to understand a group’s sentiment before or during a project
  • Have individual conversations with group members about their initial perspectives
  • Ask team members to write down their personal perspectives then collectively plot them on a matrix or scale to isolate disagreement areas
  • Run through a checklist of potential issues to see if there are any you can dismiss with no further discussion
  • Set a time limit on conversations in a meeting and only extend the time if there are conflicting points of view
  • Keep a running list of previously agreed to decisions posted so you don’t unnecessarily revisit them
  • Use multiple small groups and try to keep the “agreement talkers” bunch together

All these project management techniques work.

Quickly pick those you agree with and try them with a project team where you want to efficiently focus on where you disagree. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Continue Reading

5

Fake-Book-BoundDuring a recent “Creating Strategic Impact” workshop, I had the attendees (who were all from one company) form smaller groups to identify potential disruptive competitive threats in their technology industry.

Talking in advance with the client organization’s president, he said his people might struggle with this strategic thinking exercise since they hadn’t previously addressed competitive threats this way.

The One Strategic Truth You Must Never Forget

One group had a participant who quickly completed the first part of the strategic thinking exercise, listing three clear customer benefits his company delivered.

But then instead of identifying companies who might offer any one of those benefits individually, he put a big, bold imaginary circle around those three customer benefits. This quickly dead-ended the strategic thinking exercise as he claimed NO competitor could come to the market with all those benefits. As a result, he reaffirmed his belief that his company had few, if any, disruptive competitive threats.

The other participants in his small group perceived the flaw and tried to help him see the error in his perspective. I too tried to redirect him, pointing out that truly disruptive competitive threats targeting his company weren’t  going to show up nice bows around all three benefits his company delivered.

In fact, very real disruptive competitive threats might appear offering only ONE of those benefits, with little concern for the other two. This new disruptive force would win business with a different approach, different strategies, and different perceptions about what is important to my client’s customers.

Because it was a workshop format, there was no opportunity to spend any more time with this individual to see if he was finally persuaded about competitive threats or not. But whether he was or wasn’t, I suspect many of us, even though we know better, fall into the same trap.

Disruptive Competitive Threats

Let’s state it again so we can all be clear: the disruptive force in your industry isn’t going to show up looking like your brand and offering the same complete set of benefits.

The disruptive force may have only a vague resemblance to your brand and what you do, and win business because it sees the rules of competition and success very differently than your brand does.

That’s why so many companies who TRY reinventing themselves and staying successful fail. They have WAY TOO MUCH invested in every part of their status quo (and likely antiquated) views of the world. Unwilling to blow themselves up because they have too big a stake in what has existed for a long time and persists to today, some other brand with an insightful view of tomorrow is more than happy to do the work for them.

Think about it this way: No matter how much you might hope it might be different, you can’t have archaic and eat it too. Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your organization’s success!

 

                                                                                     Affiliate Links

Continue Reading

2

Do you ever need to explore and describe a new product idea?

Opposite-ExpectationsIf so, here’s a productive twist on a new product ideation strategic thinking exercise we used just this past week that you can use too.

Having limited time with a current client who is exploring a new product idea within a joint venture, we had to cover both the basics of the product definition and some more extreme ideas all at one time.

The answer was to combo up a strategic thinking exercise focused on new product idea basics with another one using extreme creativity questions.

New Product Idea Basics and Extremes in 30 Minutes

This is a worksheet adaptation of the strategic thinking poster we used to create a big head start on new product idea possibilities in less than 30 minutes. We first asked all the basic new product ideation questions followed by the extreme questions. Each question received about 3 to 4 minutes of attention before moving on to the next one.

Brainzooming-New-Prod

Strategic Thinking Exercise with Extreme Creativity

Within the few questions in this strategic thinking exercise, we covered a lot of territory. Additionally, incorporating the extreme creativity questions with the new product ideation basics introduced an intriguing dimension for even an already creative group.

Once we started asking the extreme creativity questions, it was as if the group went, “Oh, you want us to go THAT far. Okay, I’ll go there!” Those questions definitely brought out distinctly different and bolder ideas than the basic questions generated.

Go ahead and have a go with this strategic thinking exercise worksheet, and be sure to let us know how it expands your new product ideas. – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

Brainzooming-Before-After

 For More Information |  Phone: 816-509-5320  |  Email: info@brainzooming.com

Continue Reading

0

Successful people are in action!

And unsuccessful people? They are inaction.

You can download your own Brainzooming personal success strategies mini-poster (from this link or clicking the mini-poster) to let people know you’re a successful person in action!

Successful-People

Personal Success Strategies for Successful People in Action

Beyond the mini-poster, here are forty-nine smart ideas for making sure you are a successful person in action!

These articles should give you a jump start on creating strategic impact this week! Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your organization’s success!

Continue Reading